the time that she is so employed- for at Patara there is not always an
oracle- is shut up in the temple every night.
Below, in the same precinct, there is a second temple, in which is
a sitting figure of Jupiter, all of gold. Before the figure stands a
large golden table, and the throne whereon it sits, and the base on
which the throne is placed, are likewise of gold. The Chaldaeans
told me that all the gold together was eight hundred talents'
weight. Outside the temple are two altars, one of solid gold, on which
it is only lawful to offer sucklings; the other a common altar, but of
great size, on which the full-grown animals are sacrificed. It is also
on the great altar that the Chaldaeans burn the frankincense, which is
offered to the amount of a thousand talents' weight, every year, at
the festival of the God. In the time of Cyrus there was likewise in
this temple a figure of a man, twelve cubits high, entirely of solid
gold. I myself did not see this figure, but I relate what the
Chaldaeans report concerning it. Darius, the son of Hystaspes, plotted
to carry the statue off, but had not the hardihood to lay his hands
upon it. Xerxes, however, the son of Darius, killed the priest who
forbade him to move the statue, and took it away. Besides the
ornaments which I have mentioned, there are a large number of
private offerings in this holy precinct.
Many sovereigns have ruled over this city of Babylon, and lent
their aid to the building of its walls and the adornment of its
temples, of whom I shall make mention in my Assyrian history. Among
them two were women. Of these, the earlier, called Semiramis, held the
throne five generations before the later princess. She raised
certain embankments well worthy of inspection, in the plain near
Babylon, to control the river, which, till then, used to overflow, and
flood the whole country round about.
The later of the two queens, whose name was Nitocris, a wiser
princess than her predecessor, not only left behind her, as
memorials of her occupancy of the throne, the works which I shall
presently describe, but also, observing the great power and restless
enterprise of the Medes, who had taken so large a number of cities,
and among them Nineveh, and expecting to be attacked in her turn, made
all possible exertions to increase the defences of her empire. And
first, whereas the river Euphrates, which traverses the city, ran
formerly with a straight course to Babylon, she, by certain
excavations which she made at some distance up the stream, rendered it
so winding that it comes three several times in sight of the same
village, a village in Assyria, which is called Ardericea; and to
this day, they who would go from our sea to Babylon, on descending
to the river touch three times, and on three different days, at this
very place. She also made an embankment along each side of the
Euphrates, wonderful both for breadth and height, and dug a basin
for a lake a great way above Babylon, close alongside of the stream,
which was sunk everywhere to the point where they came to water, and
was of such breadth that the whole circuit measured four hundred and
twenty furlongs. The soil dug out of this basin was made use of in the
embankments along the waterside. When the excavation was finished, she
had stones brought, and bordered with them the entire margin of the
reservoir. These two things were done, the river made to wind, and the
lake excavated, that the stream might be slacker by reason of the
number of curves, and the voyage be rendered circuitous, and that at
the end of the voyage it might be necessary to skirt the lake and so
make a long round. All these works were on that side of Babylon
where the passes lay, and the roads into Media were the straightest,
and the aim of the queen in making them was to prevent the Medes
from holding intercourse with the Babylonians, and so to keep them
in ignorance of her affairs.
While the soil from the excavation was being thus used for the
defence of the city, Nitocris engaged also in another undertaking, a
mere by-work compared with those we have already mentioned. The
city, as I said, was divided by the river into two distinct

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